Two outstanding young alumni, Anietra Hamper and Cara Young Davies, were honored for their career excellence Saturday evening. In turn, both expressed their appreciation for their Heidelberg experience and for professors who positively influenced each of their lives.
Hamper, class of ’95, and Davies, ’96, are the 2009 recipients of Heidelberg’s Young Alumni Achievement Awards.
Currently one of Columbus’ top TV news anchors at WBNS-10TV, Hamper began to hone her skills as a student broadcaster at WHEI-TV and WHEI-FM during her student days. After stints in Columbus, Dayton and Washington, D.C., along with an Emmy nomination for her work, Hamper landed back in Columbus in 1999 and has been a fixture in the Columbus news scene ever since.
She has earned numerous local, state and national awards for journalism, speech writing and public speaking. Off camera, she dedicates her time to children and charity work with the National Safety Council, Camp Fire Boys and Girls and the Make-A-Wish Foundation. She has been the recipient of the U.S. Congressional Award, the J.C. Penney Golden Rule Award, the Jefferson Award and the YWCA Women of Achievement Award.
Hamper recalled that many of her Heidelberg days involved running from class to the WHEI studios. “I thought to myself, ‘This is a rat race. I don’t know how it’ll pan out.” All the running really paid off!
She had sincere words of thanks for key professors -- Speech team coach Dr. Jan Younger, professor of communication and theatre arts; Dr. John Bing, professor of political science; and Dr. Leanne Wolff, professor emerita of communication -- whom she said “had an impact on me in a really profound way.”
“I can tell you, every single day, the words I speak, the way I speak them, the words I write … I think of you. You instilled in me the power of words,” she said. Professors in speech communication taught her speaking skills, while professors in political science taught her how to talk intelligently about other countries and cultures and how to put into context the difficult world issues upon which she reports.
“It means so much that you would think so highly of me, but really (this award) is a reflection of you,” Hamper said.
Davies took a different path. The child of a teacher, she vowed she would choose a different path. Changing her major four times while at Heidelberg, she landed in the classroom despite her early vow. Currently, she is an assistant professor in the Department of Biological and Allied Health Sciences at Ohio Northern University. She earned her Ph.D. in 2004 in the field of biomedical science.
Davies made the most of her student experience at Heidelberg, balancing coursework with a myriad of extracurricular activities. She took her coursework very seriously – so seriously, in fact, that a “C” in chemistry caused her severe anxiety.
“I remember I was devastated because I had performed so poorly and was worried this would affect me getting into grad school, and I was feeling pressure to choose a profession,” Davies recalled.
She turned to professor and mentor, Dr. Wolff, who consoled her at the professor’s home over homemade peach pie, with words Davies said she’ll never forget. Wolff told her, “You don’t have to decide what you want to do with the rest of your life. You just have to decide what you want to do first.”
It’s a lesson she applies to her students today.
Davies also recalled a psychopharmacology class taught by then-Academic Dean Dr. Ken Porada and how Porada “saved me” during a particularly difficult presentation. She also expressed appreciation for the "incredible dedication of my professors," including Dr. Bill Reyer, professor of English.
“These types of formative experiences happen every day here. Thanks, Heidelberg. I couldn’t have done it without you,” she said.
Despite a grueling work schedule, Davies has managed to find that same balance in her professional life that she mastered as a student. She is active in her community and as a wife and mother of four young children. She is married to Frank “Mac” Davies, ’99, and mom to Brennan, Anna, Roy and Jayce.